French foreign minister due in Mauritania

26th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was due Monday evening in Mauritania, after the execution by al-Qaeda of French hostage Michel Germaneau, a government source said in Nouakchott.

Kouchner was expected at around 5:00 pm (1700 GMT) and was immediately to meet Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, before leaving later in the evening for neighbouring Mali.

The talks between Aziz and Kouchner would concern matters of cooperation on security matters, the source said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday announced Kouchner's visit, after the execution on Saturday in Mali of Germaneau, 78, by Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had held him since April.

Kouchner was later to visit Niger, where AQIM is also active and where the elderly aid worker was kidnapped.

The execution followed a failed bid by French and Mauritanian troops to rescue Germaneau, when they launched a raid in the Malian desert against an AQIM group.

President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to avenge the murder of Germaneau in a statement issued Monday.

He also warned French nationals to avoid the troubled Sahel desert region running through Mauritania, Mali, Niger and southern Algeria.

© 2010 AFP

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